Abu Dhabi, the largest of the United Arab Emirate’s seven emirates, lies on a T-shaped island off the Persian (Arabian) Gulf. It is the capital of UAE , and the second most populous city after the emirate of Dubai. Its economy depends on oil export and commerce. This is evident in its modern towering buildings, mega shopping centers in addition to the white-marbled domes of its vast grand mosque.
Abu Dhabi is the seat of the government and home to the Abu Dhabi Emiri family and the President of UAE who is from this family.
Visitors to the city can marvel at its rapid development and urbanization which transformed the city into a large and advanced metropolis. Today the city is the center of political and industrial activities, and a major cultural and commercial center. It is fourth most expensive city for expatriate employees in the region was voted 68th most expensive big city in the world.
The best place to stay to see the city’s top tourist attractions is near the Corniche, the city’s eight-kilometer seafront promenade. There are bike paths, beaches, parks, playgrounds, and fountains around the area. You can easily take a taxi to visit the places for sightseeing.
1. Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
By far the most popular sightseeing attraction in the city, the vast Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque was opened in 2007 after nearly 20 years of construction. Clad in Macedonian marble, the mosque is Abu Dhabi’s landmark building and can hold up to 41,000 worshippers, the biggest mosque in the UAE. The architectural design mixes Mameluke, Ottoman, and Fatimid design elements to create a harmonious and thoroughly modern mosque that celebrates Islamic architecture featuring an immense Persian carpet and crystal chandeliers.
Non-Muslims are allowed into all areas of the mosque (including the vast library), and guided tours are available. Address: Al Khaleej al Arabi Street, Abu Dhabi.
2. Ferrari World
If you are looking foradventure, the Ferrari World is a branded theme park where you can experience the thrill of Formula One racing. There are things to do for the whole family. Small children can test out their newly learned driving skills on the Junior GT track while the more adventurous family members can get adrenaline fix by riding the Flying Aces rollercoaster with speeds up to 120 kilometers per hour flying through a 52-meter loop, the tallest in the world. True car racing enthusiasts can join the Ferrari knowledge game shows, and enjoy admiring a collection of Ferrari cars dating back to 1947, as well as a tour of the Ferrari factory.
Address: Yas Leisure Drive, Yas Island
3. Observation Deck at 300
This is an experience that should not be missed when visiting this city. The observation deck, located on the 74th floor of the Jumeira at Etihad Towers Hotel, offers skyline views from the highest point in the city. Non-guests of the hotel have to pay an entry fee which can be redeemed for food and drink from the observation deck’s restaurant, which serves snacks and light bites, and soda. In the afternoon, the restaurant serves high-tea. Having tea from the highest point overlooking the vast city is definitely an experienced that should be included in your itinerary.
Address: Jumeirah at Etihad Towers, Corniche Road, Abu Dhabi
4. Qasr Al-Hosn
The oldest building in Abu Dhabi and one of its major historical site, Al-Hosn Fort, also known as the Old Fort or the White Fort, was built in 1793. The palace was the residence of the ruling family and the seat of government. It has been renovated and modernized and now used as a museum to showcase the history and culture of Abu Dhabi. On exhibit are oral histories and plenty of historical photographs. Its notable features are the courtyard and the magnificent tile work over the main northern gate.
Address: Hamdan bin Mohammed Street
5. Yas Island
If you want to indulge in luxury during your visit, Yas Island is one of Abu Dhabi’s top luxury hotel destinations. The island boasts of stretches of sandy beach that are perfect for sunbathing while enjoying the comfort of the facilities offered by the hotels. This is also home to the Yas Marina Circuit, the racing venue for Formula One each year.
6. Yas Waterworld
Temperatures in the Middle East can go very high during summer. If the heat is wearing you down, a visit to Yas Island to cool off at the water park is recommended. A mammoth theme park, Yas Waterworld has many firsts. Aside from waterslides and an inner-tube river ride, it has the world’s first hydro magnetic tornado water rafting ride, the world’s largest surfable sheet wave, and the Jebel Drop, a free-fall speed water slide. Its many restaurants, cafés, and shops offer more relaxed pursuits and small children can enjoy in the water play areas inside the park.
Address: Yas Leisure Driver, Yas Island
7. Heritage Village
If you want a glimpse into the culture of the people of this city, a visit to Abu Dhabi’s Heritage Village will give you a clear insight of the people’s lives before the oil exploration. An authentic replica of a typical Bedouin village, it is located in a beautiful stretch of beach where visitors can wander after a visit. Agriculture and pearl diving were the main economies of the people before the discovery of oil and these are all displayed along with traditional day-to-day objects, handicrafts and metalwork.
8. Liwa Oasis
If you need an escape from the city, visit this beautiful oasis located at the south of the emirate. The oasis is famous for its date farming. If you want to try and ride dune buggies, sand surfing or go camel trekking, don’t miss this adventure filled destination.
Location: 150 kilometers southwest of Abu Dhabi
9. The Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital
Falconry is a favorite sport among the royalties and Abu Dhabi boasts of a working veterinary hospital in the city for ill and injured falcons. It provides guided tours of its facilities and there’s an on-site museum that explains the history of falconry. Depending on what activities the vets are performing at the time of your visit, you can have a chance to hold one of the birds, or even feed them.
Location: Off Sweihan Road, Abu Dhabi
10. Mangrove Kayaking Tours
The shore of this city supports a mangrove forests that plays an important role in maintaining the ecology of the island. If you want to see a different side of Abu Dhabi’s steel and glass exterior, you can join one of the kayaking tours ranging from 1.5 hours to 3 hours of paddling and explore these last remnants of the city’s forests. A really special experience is the night tour where tourists can glide through these mangroves under darkness.